Think you don’t need sunscreen during the winter season? Don’t be fooled -- sun damage can happen even during cold and cloudy winter months. Read on for more about why sunscreen is important, plus some tips to prevent sun damaged skin.
The skin condition that most people associate with sun damage is skin cancer. While not all sun damaged skin will develop into skin cancer, there are a few types of skin cancer to be aware of that are quite common.
Melanoma begins in the melanocytes, which are the cells that provide the skin with its color. If caught early, it can usually be completely treated through removal. Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) originates in the squamous cells on the upper layer of skin and often appears as a red scaly patch in areas frequently exposed to sunlight. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is found in the top layer of the skin and is often pearly and white in color.
Skin cancer often starts in the form of a mole, which is why getting moles mapped regularly by a dermatologist is a smart practice. Keeping a regular watch on any new moles or changes in mole size, shape, or color, and reporting these changes to your doctor is also very important. Skin cancer is most often caused by exposure to UV rays from the sun or artificial sunlight from tanning beds and booths.
While exposure to sunlight, especially during winter, can be an important element of mental health, protecting yourself against the sun’s harmful UV rays should also be a priority. Sunscreen should be worn on a daily basis regardless of what season it is or how bright the sun appears to be on a given day. A unique issue in winter that often goes unacknowledged is sun glare on white snow. This glare can contribute to sun damaged skin and common signs of aging like wrinkles.
Regularly using skincare products with a minimum of SPF 30 will drastically reduce your risk of sun damage. Many moisturizers, lip balms, and makeup products include SPF, so read labels to find something that works. If you’re in higher elevations, say during winter sports like skiing, increase your level of SPF to the 50 to 75 range.
And don’t forget to moisturize. While moisturizer won’t protect your skin from sun damage, it is another key to slow the appearance of aging skin. Your skin is more prone to cracks and dryness, not to mention signs of aging like wrinkles when you don’t use a rich moisturizer in dry, cold air. Be sure to find a formula that works for your specific skin type and is non-comedogenic (so it won’t clog your pores.)
Need some pointers on winter sun protection or concerned with sun damaged skin? If you’re in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, contact The Dermatology Group today for an appointment. Our board-certified specialists can diagnose any conditions, perform procedures on skin cancer if needed, and provide necessary tips on skincare for sun damage.